Three-Peat State Qualifier: Mia Piljevic

By Diana Panoutsos, Sports Editor

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Senior Mia Piljevic, for the third year in a row out of her four years swimming for Niles West, qualified for state once again. Piljevic is the second person in Niles West girls swimming history to qualify that many times in her high school career.

Piljevic, shaving three whole seconds of her season time at the sectional meet, feels prepared to take on the tough competition the state meet has in store for her.

“It has been a long ride and all of my three years of work through high school and club season has paid off. I have worked hard every single year and throughout my whole high school career I have worked on channeling my inner mental strength and that is something that worked to my advantage to be able to qualify for state,” Piljevic said. “It is all through mindset. For swimming, mental strength is a large barrier you have to break through. Being mentally strong is one of my biggest strengths in swimming. I was just trying to see how close I could get to my overall record and that was my goal by the end of the season.”

Supportive teammate and friend of Piljevic, Katelin Avenir, are not surprised Piljevic qualified for state once again. According to Avenir, Piljevic’s hard work throughout the season guaranteed her a well-deserved spot at state.

“Mia and I have been swimming together for nine years now and it has been really nice to see her succeed and accomplish all her goals during our last high school season. She puts effort and hard work into every single practice, so I can’t wait to see how she will do at state. It is really special to have Mia by my side during practices and meets to encourage each other, push each other, and motivate each other and I wouldn’t have chosen anyone else to be my training partner,” Avenir said.

Coach Jason Macejak is thrilled for Piljevic and has high expectations for the athlete heading to the state competition.

“Mia is the second swimmer in school history to qualify for state three out of the four years she has been here. That in itself is quite an accomplishment for her. We knew in the beginning of the season that making it to state was her goal and we knew that she needed to drop a lot of time which she managed to do at the sectional meet,” Macejak said. “We are proud of her and wish her all the best going into the competition. As the coaches, we are hoping for Mia to get a lifetime best time.”

Being a senior, Piljevic will take away the memories and friends she has made on the swimming team forever as she undergoes her final competition swimming for Niles West.

“I will take away everything my coaches have taught me that I can apply to my life beyond swimming and my teammates who are always supporting me. I know I will always have all of them right behind me and I will always remember each and every one of them as I move on to college and beyond,” Piljevic said.

Make sure to come out and support Piljevic at state on Fri, Nov. 17 at Evanston high school.